We know, we know, networking can feel like the most horrible prospect in the world. But hopefully we can help you feel a little more confident in meeting new people with some simple tips!
1. The little blue bird
Following someone on Twitter doesn’t mean you’ll immediately become best friends, but it’s a way of keeping in the loop with what people are doing and interacting on topics informally. Popping up and saying you’ll be somewhere too will likely be enough for them to recognise you if you do meet. It also can be very helpful in preparing for our next tip…
2. Have something to say
If you’re going to a conference or event, check the delegate list if it’s available. See who you want to meet in particular, and have an opener for those ‘bigger’ people you want to try talk to. Would they be helpful to your dissertation? Do they work in an area you’re interested in? Have a reason to approach those key people, even a small one, and the prospect will seem far less daunting.
3. Have an opening line
If you meet someone new, chances are they’ll ask what you do. It’s perfectly fine to say “I’m a student”, but it’s better to have something more informative like “I’m a publishing student, interested in children’s fiction”. If you’re only asked one follow up question, “Why children’s publishing?” is a far more engaging conversation than “What are you studying?” Plus, a simple, planned opening can take away from the nerves of how you present yourself to someone.
4. Be engaged and be yourself
That’s really the (mildly terrifying) essence of networking. Ask questions that you’re interested in, listen to what people say, answer questions honestly. You don’t need to be witty and insightful to impress people, just showing an interest will get you far. Also, don’t feel the pressure to talk about work things. It’s a good ice breaker, but it can be refreshing to move away from that. People are interested in other people, so just remember that!
5. Showing face is a form of networking
Don’t fear if talking and handing out info hasn’t happened yet. We at the SYP can vouch for the fact that just showing up to events is a way of getting yourself out there even if you aren’t confident enough to approach people for a while. People recognise you, and in terms of networking, that’s actually a massive help. So don’t think you’re doing nothing!
6. Don’t put pressure on yourself
Like we said, showing face can be enough in some cases. Putting pressure on yourself makes everything worse. One good new contact from an evening is better than making yourself talk to 20 people in 30 minutes. Have reasonable expectations!
7. Have a card
This isn’t a must, but at somewhere heaving and busy like London Book Fair, cards can be your best friend. (Moo.com do fantastic cards, and often have student discounts, by the way!)
8. People are nice
If you’re here, we’re assuming you’re interested in publishing. Good news: people in publishing are lovely. Everyone has to start somewhere, and we’ve all been nervous talking to new people. We all remember how awkward it was for us and can still be when we travel somewhere new, so know that people will chat to you if they can.
9. Celebrate the small successes!
Don’t get hung up if you didn’t meet that person you wanted to, or maybe stumbled over a sentence. Putting yourself out there is a big step, so be positive about the fact that you’re trying, and you’ll get more into the swing of it! Again, showing face and showing an interest is a massive step in the right direction.
10. Want to try out your networking skills? You’re in luck!
Our September event is just a good ol’ excuse to meet like-minded publishing people, whether it’s staff, students or people working in publishing. It’s informal, the committee will all be there to chat and answer any questions you have, and, best of all, there will be cake.
When? September 24th, 6.00pm.
Where? Mad Hatter, Edinburgh.
The event is free but ticketed so visit our Facebook event page for the address and full ticketing info. We hope to see you there!